Capitol Ideas Nov/Dec 2012

Working Group Explores State Incentives to Attract Business

In January 2012, aerospace manufacturing giant Boeing announced it would be closing its facilities in Wichita, Kan., which meant the loss of at least 2,000 jobs in the state.

“That’s a big blow to our state,” said Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jay Scott Emler. “Especially now, when unemployment is such a critical issue, losing that many jobs really hurts.”

After spending the fall on the campaign circuit, Congress will return to work with an economy-killing challenge before it. Priority one for the lame-duck Congress will be to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a set of eight statutory tax increases and spending cuts that collectively would shrink the economy by $600 billion and could tip the country back into recession.

While the strategies Congress will xpursue to meet this challenge won’t be clear until the dust settles from the election, some common themes are already coming into view.

After spending the fall on the campaign circuit, Congress will return to work with an economy-killing challenge before it. Priority one for the lame-duck Congress will be to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a set of eight statutory tax increases and spending cuts that collectively would shrink the economy by $600 billion and could tip the country back into recession.

While the strategies Congress will xpursue to meet this challenge won’t be clear until the dust settles from the election, some common themes are already coming into view.

It’s no secret that state leaders make good national leaders. Numerous presidents and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have served in governor’s offices and state legislatures, as well as other executive branch offices, before moving on to Capitol Hill. Three former state leaders—all of whom are alumni of The Council of State Governments’ Henry Toll Fellowship Program and who are completing their freshmen terms in Congress—share lessons they took with them from their service in state capitols and what they are learning in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Jolt to Economy, Lack of Details and Flexibility Create Problems for States

Stephen Fuller likens the pending budget cuts from sequestration to crash dieting.

“There’s a couple of ways to lose 40 pounds,” he said. “Going on a starvation diet is one of them. That’s sequestration. (Then there’s) working out and cutting out dessert and not eating so much bread and reducing the portion size—you’re actually stronger and healthier when you get done and you’ve accomplished the same thing.”